A tandem of talented running backs has helped Blanchard make its deepest playoff push since 1979.
Junior Braden Stringer and senior Stephen Davis share the workload in the backfield for the Lions, who meet Jones at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the Class 3A semifinals at Putnam City Stadium.
Jones (11-2) will be looking to avenge a 28-25 loss to Blanchard (12-1) on Oct. 12, a game in which Stringer rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries.
Davis, however, made the biggest play of that game, returning a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown.
“They had just scored to change the momentum and we just took it right back with the kickoff return,” Blanchard coach Jeff Craig said.
Stringer said Davis’ kickoff return turned the tide for Blanchard.
“We were on our heels and they kicked it to him,” Stringer said. “That was a big-time play. He is definitely the track star. He has a lot of speed. It would be awesome if he can do it again this week.”
Stringer is the starter and gets the bulk of the carries for the Lions. He has rushed for 1,195 yards and 17 touchdowns this season.
“Braden goes out there first, but it really doesn’t matter,” Craig said. “We are going to get production out of both of them.”
As the backup, Davis has rushed for more than 500 yards and scored 15 touchdowns. He would start for many teams.
“We use Stephen a lot to spell Braden,” Craig said. “He plays all of our special teams. I can’t say enough about the unselfishness he has shown to help this football team win.”
While Stringer grew up in Blanchard, Davis moved there in the summer before his freshman year.
He came from Wichita, Kan., to Blanchard to visit his aunt and uncle that summer and never left after attending Blanchard’s “Summer Pride” football camp.
“I was supposed to come down for two weeks,” Davis said. “‘I was never supposed to stay.”
Davis convinced his parents to allow him to live with his aunt and uncle so he could go to school in Blanchard and play football.
“My dad wasn’t going to let me do it at first, but he had a change of heart,” Davis said.
Stringer is perhaps the best athlete on the team. He also plays baseball and was a state runner-up in wrestling last season. Stringer also is a state powerlifting champion.
Stringer’s work ethic is infectious, Craig said
“He is just a kid with a tremendous drive to be highly successful,” Craig said. “He has such a tremendous work ethic that he has just infected our whole team.”
Stringer, who also plays safety on Blanchard’s defense, had one of three Lion interceptions of Jones quarterback David Cornwell in the first game.